- Reinha Rosary Cathedral
One of the Larantuka’s most iconic landmarks is the Reinha Rosary Cathedral, also nicknamed by the locals as the Church of Iron. The cathedral is renowned for its historic link to the Portuguese missionaries. In fact, the nickname came about in 1884 when the cathedral, which was then made of wood and bamboo, was being renovated using iron imported from Den Haag, The Netherlands.
According to local stories, back in the day, Larantuka did not have large ships which could cross oceans, so when the iron arrived from The Netherlands, all of the villagers went down to the port to hand-carry the iron by hand to the building site. The cathedral was built by everyone in the community – not by the Portuguese, but it was designed in the classic Portuguese style. Today, the cathedral is Larantuka’s proud historic heritage and icon. Wandering through the cathedral brings to mind of a time long ago, thanks to the building’s beautifully classic interior and exterior. The cathedral held its first special ceremony in 1886 and today, it is the centre for all Catholic ceremonies in Larantuka, especially during the Semana Santa festivities every April.
With its three soaring towers and religious ornaments, Reinha Rosary Cathedral is a magnificent landmark not to be missed. Outside, there is a large park where you can stroll around underneath the shady trees or pay respects to the late priests and bishop by visiting the sacred tomb across the church. The church also offers 2 guest rooms which is often used for guests during the holy week of Semana Santa. As the “City of 1000 Churches”, Larantuka is also home to quite a number of other places of worship such as the Chapel of the Baby Jesus and Chapel of Mother Mary. *Photo by satyawinnie.com
- The Lamaholot Villages
If you are interested in meeting the Lamaholot people, then make it a point to visit Lewokluok and Leworahang villages. These villages will also be perfect for those who have developed a passion and love for the Ikat.
The Lewokluok village is a small village located in East Flores. The village is well-known for their speciality; making Ikat or how they call it kwatek kinge. The Ikat is made out of local and natural ingredients, even the dye of the cotton! These Ikat fabrics are only used during ceremonial functions, which give the cloth special meaning and value. You won’t see the villages wearing it every day and you also won’t find Ikat like this anywhere else as the villagers weave small seashells into their designs, which makes it extra unique. Today, these Ikat are even more valuable – even though there is a local association of weavers known as the Sanggar Uto Wata, there are not many women left who have the knowledge or skills to make entire sheaths of Ikat for consumer use.
Another must-see Lamaholot village is the Leworahang village. The people of this village mainly work as farmers or fishermen. The village is located near a beach and is surrounded by lush green vegetation. When entering the village you will see three well-maintained traditional houses. The first house you will see is the most important one, the ceremonial house. It is in the centre of the village and stands on a pile of wood behind a pile of stones. The next house is the Main House also called Lango Belle. People say that the house belonged to the first man who ever lived in Leworahang. The last house is the Kebang. This is where the people would store their corn and rice. Both villages are accessible by car or motorbike and are approximately 26 to 30km from Larantuka. There are no public buses going toward these villages. *Photo by Ng Sebastian
- Fresh Spring Water at Kawaliwu Beach
Kawaliwu beach in East Flores surely has a uniqueness that will surprise you. Only here at this beach can you enjoy fresh spring water near the sea. The source of this unique spring is from Mount Ile Padung in Lewolema district in East Flores. As an active volcano, Mount Ile Padung release its thermal energy through the underground water that is flowing into the sea.
If you want to enjoy the spring, first you must dig into the sands right there on the beach. After digging deep for about 30 cm, you will find the flow of the natural spring. Some people will dig a large hole, and then sit in the hole for a refreshing dip. The temperature of the water in the spring is about 40-45 Celsius and is fresh and clear, not unlike a mountain spring. The locals usually come to Kawaliwu beach after work, just to unwind and relax their muscles.
If you are too reluctant to dig, just enjoy swimming in the sea as the waves here are quite calm. The view is just fantastic. It’s a combination of sea and mountain views. There you can spot verdant hills that line up against each other just like a painting. What a beautiful sight! Kawaliwu beach is also known as a great spot to watch the sunset.
It’s hard to miss this place if you’re travelling around Larantuka as it is just 17 km from Larantuka city or about 20 minutes with car or motorbike. There are no food stalls around the beach. So better prepare some drinks and snacks before your visit but please remember to take your trash back with you and keep Indonesia clean. *Photo by Satyawinnie.com
- Adonara Island
Fourty five minutes away from Larantuka is Adonara Island; a hidden gem featuring splendid natural beauty as far as the eye can see. One of the best things about this island is its hidden status – not many people know of Adonara and therefore, the island largely remains pristine, clean and untouched. Adonara is part of East Flores, near Larantuka, a famously Catholic town where the yearly Semana Santa is held.
The locals living on Adonara are mostly farmers cultivating corn, tuber, cassava, coconut, tobacco, clove, vanilla and cacao. Aside to complying with the national and local administrations, the people living in Adonara also live on a system that is based on tribal laws and ethnicity including a chieftain, local cultural administrators who all play important roles in traditional ceremonies and sanctions and matters related to spirituality. For an amazing day trip filled with culture and adventure, do visit Adonara Island for a day. *Photo by Indonesia-tourism.com
- Lembata Island
Feed your adventurous soul and visit one of the least visited places in East Nusa Tenggara; Lembata Island. Lembata is the largest island in the Solor Archipelago that is made up of many small islands located to the east of Flores, right after Larantuka. To be more specific, the island is located between Solor and Adonara.
If you want to get to Lembata, you will need to board a ship from Larantuka in Flores or Waiwerang and disembark at Lewoleba, the capital city where the bigger harbour is located. Here in Lembata, you can immerse yourself in unspoiled nature, where the land’s rugged and wild beauty remains untouched. Just like on the main island of Flores, the locals here produce the famous Ikat weaves but here it is made entirely of homegrown cotton, which is spun and dyed by the weaver.
Aside to getting to know the local’s rich and fascinating culture, you could unleash your inner explorer and trek to Mount Ile Ape, an active volcano at an altitude of 1,450 above sea level. It goes without saying that the scenery from Mount Ile Ape as well as on other parts of the island is stunning, giving you once-in-a-lifetime views that will remain with you forever. It is no wonder that Mount Ile Ape is known as one of Indonesia’s photographic icon. Many villages are also located at the foot of Mount Ile Ape.
On the Southern tip of the island is Lamalera village and it is here you will come across the traditional whale hunting community. The people of this village have been hunting Sperm Whales for centuries. They use only handmade equipment and use all parts of the whale for food or trading with other islanders nearby for corn and other food. The people of Lamalera and their whale hunting activities have received sanction from the United Nations, considering the ancestral links, primitive equipment used and the importance of the hunt to the survival of the people of Lamalera.
If its deserted beaches that you’re after, the far western tip of Lembata is filled with excellent beaches, with crystal clear blue waters and white powdery sands. From here, you could actually see Gunung Ile Boleng all the way on Adonara Island. Other notable places of interests here include Uran’s Prayer Garden, Waijarang Beach, Lembata viewpoint and Bukit Doa Watomiten where you will find two statues and a monument for you to selfie with.